May 18, 2016 Edition 
Science: Textbooks, Hands-on or Both?
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Hey Mama,
Kids definitely need hands-on science lessons--especially during the elementary years, but all of your kids can benefit from digging in and experimenting, from preschool to high school. Whether it's nature study, science experiments, or kitchen science, make science fun and engaging, and you'll help open up God's wonderful world for your kids. Watch for teachable moments and expect some messes!
And here's something to remember ...
Is this not true? HE IS FAITHFUL. Never will He leave you. He loves you. He loves your children. Your husband. He is mighty to save. He is capable of protecting and defending you. He is the GOD of the universe, still on the throne, all knowing, and absolutely NOTHING surprises Him.

No matter what it is, He is right there beside you. Look up, Mama. Look up.

~ gena


Three Powerful Reasons Kids Need to Write--and
You Do, Too!

By Debra Bell, PhD

One of the great mysteries facing homeschool parents is how to teach kids to write--it is the number one question I've gotten over the years. We make this task harder than it needs to be. Writing is the process of transforming what we think into words. That process is the one reason kids need to write.
  1. Writing is a brain-building exercise. "I don't know what to write!" We've all heard this complaint, and experienced it ourselves. Yes, that is the issue--we don't know what we think, what we believe, what we know, or what we understand. The real power in writing comes from struggling to find the words to express our thoughts. That is when the brain is churning--making connections, pondering questions, sorting and classifying details and experiences--all in an attempt to figure out what it is we have to say. Tell your kids this truth--every moment you spend drafting and refining that essay or story is building a bigger brain. The more you write, the faster your brain will work.
  2. Writing is your child's intellectual history. The stories, essays, and reports your children create as they grow will become the archives of their childhood. The writing portfolios my own four children produced during our homeschooling years are among my most precious possessions. This amazing journey toward adulthood is worth capturing and treasuring forever.
  3. Writing gives voice to each child's individuality. If there is one thing God obviously loves, it is our diversity. Throughout creation, we see the abundance of His creative spirit overflowing--no two snowflakes alike, no end to the different species of plants and animals we discover. God is more glorified when we put what makes us unique on display. Forget about assigning those formulaic essays you also hated writing when you were in school. Rather, focus on helping your kids express with words what only they have thought, experienced, or imagined. We need the God-given voice of each child to be captured, polished, and shared.
Language is an amazing grace from God, and a gift to steward and revel in. Skill and confidence in crafting words will open doors for your children, and help lead them into their futures.

Debra Bell is a veteran homeschooler, and author of Apologia's writing curriculum, Writers in Residence™. 
Dr. James Dobson    
Dr. James Dobson
Building Bridges to the Hearts of Our Children
By Dr. James C. Dobson
The culture is at war with parents for the hearts and minds of their children. I don't need to describe this battle, because you see it, too. Parents in decades past would not have believed what was about to happen to the institution of the family. I am not sure many of us understand it, either. 

Immorality, pornography, violence, and illicit drugs touch almost every home. Most moms and dads love their children and are trying to shepherd them past the minefields that lie scattered in their paths. However, they are perplexed by the challenges they face. 

When I was a kid, parental authority typically stood like a great shield against the evils in what was called "the world." Anything perceived as unwholesome or immoral was kept outside the white picket fence, simply by willing it to stay put. Furthermore, the surrounding community was helpful to families. 

It was organized to keep kids on the straight and narrow. Censorship prevented the movies from going too far, schools maintained strict discipline, disrespectful or rebellious students were "paddled" or found themselves sitting in "detention," infractions were reported to the parents, truant officers caught students playing hooky, chaperones usually preserved virginity, alcohol was not sold to minors, and illicit drugs were unheard-of. Even unrelated adults saw it as their civic responsibility to help protect children from anything that could harm them, whether physically, emotionally, or spiritually. Most townsfolk were acquainted with other children's parents, so it was easier for them to intervene. This support system didn't always do the job, of course, but it was generally effective. 

This commitment to the welfare of children has all but vanished. Rather than assisting parents in their child-rearing responsibilities, the pop culture and politically correct ideology conspires against them. The Judeo-Christian system of values is on the wane. Harmful images and ideas come sliding under the front door, or they slither directly into the bedrooms through electronic media. Illicit drugs are available to every teen or pre-teen who wants them. With every child having a cell phone with which to access each other beyond parental ears, and with the advent of the all-pervasive social media, there are just too many opportunities for kids to conspire and to get into trouble. Controlling those ever-changing dynamics of child development puts our kids at greater risk and their parents in disarray. 

It is no longer enough to make and enforce rules to keep children in line. It still makes sense to prohibit harmful or immoral behavior, and to discipline and punish when appropriate. However, these time-honored approaches to child management must be supplemented by an emotional connection that makes children want to do what is right. In short, it is doubly important to build relationships with kids from their earliest childhood. Your sons and daughters must know that you love them unconditionally, and that everything you require is for their own good. It is also helpful to explain why you want them to behave in certain ways. "Laying down the law," without this emotional linkage, is likely to fail. 

Author and speaker Josh McDowell expressed this principle in a single sentence. He said, "Rules without relationship lead to rebellion." He is absolutely right. With all the temptations buzzing around our kids, simply saying no a thousand times creates a spirit of defiance. We have to build bridges to them from the ground up. The construction should begin early, and include having fun as a family, laughing and joking, playing board games, throwing or kicking a ball, shooting baskets, playing Ping-Pong, running with the dog, talking at bedtime, swimming together, participating in sports, getting kids in great churches with good youth programs, being a sponsor of the school band, and doing a thousand other things that tend to cement the generations together. The tricky part is to establish friendships, while maintaining parental authority and respect. It can be done. It must be done. It is the only formula I know to combat the dangers that stalk the land. But it takes time--about which my Dad said, "cannot be given, if it is all signed, and conscripted, and laid on the altar of career ambition." 
From Dr. Dobson's book, Your Legacy: The Greatest Gift
Related article: drjamesdobson.org/blogs
For over 30 years, Dr. James Dobson has been America's trusted source for psychologically sound, biblically based advice to help strengthen marriages, parents, and families. For more practical help and encouragement, visit: drjamesdobson.org.


TOS Excellence Awards

It's time for the annual The Old Schoolhouse Excellence Awards, and we need your input! Please take a few minutes to vote in such categories as your favorite homeschool literature book, preferred online learning tool and best app. The Old Schoolhouse will send you a FREE WannaBe series as a thank you just for taking the time to vote! Click here! 
Relational Homeschooling    
Diana Waring
Dear Friends,

When it came to teaching science to my kids, I really wanted to do it right. That's what compelled me to ask every scientist I met at homeschool conventions this question:
"How do I teach science to my grade school kids when I don't know anything about it??!!"
To my surprise, each scientist basically gave me the same answer:
  • Let them play in the dirt.
  • Let them experiment.
  • Let them explore nature.
There was nothing about formal study in their responses, because (as they explained to me) the best foundation for becoming a scientist is a sense of wonder and curiosity about the natural world. As kids explore and discover, as they experiment and observe, as they ask questions and look for answers, they will be prepared to do the formal study of science in later years.
What I learned from these Ph.D. scientists is similar to what experts have learned about babies learning to walk--which is that the most crucial preliminary step to walking is to crawl. So, armed with this knowledge and  to create a love for science, we began to experiment. We made volcanoes (baking soda and vinegar), we played with dry ice (goodness, did you know that quarters can sing??), we went exploring in the woods, we visited wild animals in the zoo, we saw ocean storms hit the coastline. . .and we thoroughly enjoyed it all!
If you want YOUR elementary kids to love science, my advice is to let them play in the dirt, let them experiment, let them explore nature--bugs and all! (For some fantastic experiments that will delight and amaze your kids, I highly recommend Dr. Jay Wile's new elementary science books.)
If, on the other hand, you have high school students, then by all means, get a formal biology, chemistry, and/or physics curriculum.  Our family's hands-down favorites were the books written by Dr. Jay Wile on these subjects because he made them understandable and interesting for students. What I personally loved about these books was that Dr. Wile assumed there was no science teacher in the home, so he included all of the lecture material he would have given in a classroom setting in his textbooks.  Frankly, my kids thrived in science--without my help!!

Remember, stay relational!


P.S. Check out this week's video blog-and see some AMAZING creative projects students have created--at www.facebook.com/dianawaring.

The Familyman 
I know this is going to blow you away, but I LIKE science text books ... or at least the ones with lots of photos, drawings, and snippets of information. In fact, I grew up with a science textbook tucked away in our bathroom ... ready for exploration. I guess it wasn't really a science textbook, but more like ... one of the 22 volumes of our highly-prized 1972 World Book Encyclopedia.

I can still picture the old photos, and imagine that most of my accumulated knowledge was acquired from that set. (In fact, last time I was at my parents' house, one of the volumes occupied some of the bathroom shelf space.)

Now, don't get me wrong, I'm all for hands-on science--sometimes known as LIFE and exploration--but we can't all see the inner workings of a paramecium, visit the most bizarre mammal (barbirusa), or tunnel down to the earth's core. Science textbooks can take you there.

So here is the Familyman's Guide to science textbook selection:

1) Pick one with lots of pictures, well-done diagrams, and easily understood charts.
2) Generally pick one that is easy to read, with short sections of information. The easiest way to bore your children, and kill any chance of science appreciation, is to give them too much and too deep. I think it's your job to whet their appetite and watch the true science kids explore and dig deeper. Non-science kids will still have some exposure, but they'll gravitate to their own interests.
3) Don't worry about the tests and quizzes at the end of the chapters--those are lousy ways to measure understanding. Just let your kids enjoy the textbooks, like ... a good volume of the 1972 World Book Encyclopedia.

In fact, you may want to de-shelve the science textbook and put it in the bathroom (where real learning takes place).

Be real,



P.S. Looking for a great Father's Day gift? Check out our  Wooden Nickels of Dad-Time , our Dad books, and our Staying Married T-shirts.
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Contest Corner 
For the month of May 2016  
We've all heard the term "Intelligent Design" in reference to creationism, but Jay Schabacker uses the term "Purposeful Design" to go one step further. It takes the concept of Intelligent Design, and emphasizes the personal aspects of the way God created everything in our universe. His book, Purposeful Design: Understanding the Creation, is a gorgeous book that not only tells the wonders of God's creation, but shows the beauty and majesty of the world around us. The 94-page book retails for $18.95.
When I first saw Purposeful Design, I thought this bright picture book would be perfect for my second grader. As I started reading, however, I realized that it was better suited for my seventh grader. The colorful pictures appeal to younger students, but the text is written for older students and even adults. I checked a few sample passages and found the reading level to be at least sixth grade; several passages, scored at a high school level in terms of readability.
This book is divided into seven chapters, each dealing specifically with a single day of creation. The chapters are packed with examples of how God's design for our world is perfectly arranged, so that life can exist the way we know it. For instance, in Chapter 4, we find that the 23.5 degree tilt of the earth's spin axis allows us to have seasons the way we know them. In addition, several examples are given to show how the earth orbits the sun in a precise and repeatable way.  The sunrise and sunset times for a specific day and a specific location are constant from year to year, only varying by two or three minutes. The builders of Stonehenge arranged the rocks so that the sunrise would shine through a specific hole in the site on the Summer Solstice (and only on that day).
I am hard-pressed to pick a favorite section of this book. Each chapter is packed full of interesting scientific facts that illustrate how perfectly the universe works, how each animal is perfectly suited to its environment, or how perfectly each aspect of the human body is designed. Even after reading through the book from cover to cover, I still found myself picking it back up to reread a section or two--how the human head was designed, why ice floats, or what beautiful stars can be seen through the Hubble Space Telescope. (Click here to read the rest of the review.)
YOU can WIN this beautiful book!
TO ENTER: Email Heather (hmader@thehomeschoolmagazine.com) with your name, mailing address, and phone number for contact purposes, with the subject line, "Purposeful Design" for a chance to win* it for your family! 

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